I slept in a little then finished posting my blog. Once finished I packed and was ready for 1000 check out. I headed to the general store where I saw they cooked full breakfasts. My stomach was still feeling bloated and I knew I would not finish a full breakfast so I went for the pancakes. I sat outside for the entertainment of watching the Kea steal other peoples food though in a moment of inattention one got a sip of my coffee. The score for the keas was one scone and one ice cream, still in its wrapper. I asked for the squirt bottle and was left alone as they know what it is. Two ladies asked to sit at my table and after talking for a while I asked them for a ride to the trail and they were more than happy to oblidge.
Back at the trail where I left it I followed a nice walkway through the trees to Greyney Shelter. Then it was on the road for a couple of hundred meters then left back to the river. I saw a marker pole but the track was so overgrown I decided to just walk over the river stones. My left hand was sore around the base of the thumb. I have noticed this occasionally over the last few days but it hasn't been bothering me until today so I only used the other pole when the terrain allowed.
With a km to go to the Waimakariri River I saw the markers again and followed them to the river. I then walked upstream a little to a great crossing point where the water was below knee height.
From the river the track heads to the Bealey Hotel and out to the road which I followed for 2 km to Bealey Spur. Here my lack of concentration cost me an hour. I turned up here despite thinking the road name was different than I thought. I followed the road up the hill to the track start. There was a sign saying 2 hours to Bealey Spur Hut which sounded long to me so I checked my map and saw this was a different hut to Bealey Hut near the start of the track and this was the second time I should have noticed something was wrong. I continued up the track stopping to talk with parents and young kids. I reached a flatter bit and could put some speed on..There was an opening in the trees to the left and I saw a ridge that looked a lot like the one I should be walking on. After checking my map I realised I was on the wrong ridge - aargh! Rather than walk all the way back I thought I would bush bash to the other ridge but that option ended after 10 minutes when I came to a cliff and saw it was cliffs on the other side too. So I bush bashed back to the track and went all the way back down to the main road. 1 hour and 3 km stupidity tax!
Now I was back on the road for another couple of km to the correct road. On the way I saw what looked like a great shortcut with markers but the map and trail notes said follow the main road. From the other side there was a sign saying "Waimakariri River Walk" so I think I could have taken the shortcut.
At the track carpark was a mother and her 9 year old daughter who had just completed the 33 km Cass Lagoon Circuit. Not a bad effort for a 9 year old. They had just seen a Falcon swoop on a mouse so were buzzing. There were mice everywhere which is not good. I had been seeing them all along the road and in the bush. The high numbers are due to the Beech Mast.
From the carpark it was a steady zig zag (switchback) climb up the hill through bush and then pine forest. The track was busy with 7 people heading down.
Once into the open the track sidled slowly gaining height. Along here the views were fantastic. Mountains and braided rivers. It was distracting and I took lots of photos. I had nearly run out of water but there were several side streams so I was able to refil.
There were some swampy areas and some boardwalks but these were in a bad state which surprised me given how popular the Cass Lagoon Circuit is.
Once over the saddle it was into the bush and now the track was fantastic for the next few km. I passed the cute A Frame Hut on the way. It was then in the river bed, crossing several times before climbing up high and back down again. I was starting to get low on energy as I have lost my appatite. My stomach feels overfull constantly and even having a drink of water makes it feel ready to burst. This means I am not eating as much as usual and have less energy later in the day.
At West Harper Hut I had a look in as it was a historical hut. I interpret this as a hut you only stay in if you are desperate and this one was true to form with dirt floor and ripped canvas bunks.
From the hut the track was great and I was able to move fast. While walking I was debating whether to go to Hamilton Hut (500 metres off trail) or camp. I didn't feel like being around people and the weather was great so I decided to camp up until I found myself on the track to the hut unconsciously. I think I saw the sign saying 5 minutes to the Hut and automatically turned. As I approached the hut I saw a person leaving and was pleasantly surprised that there was no one there. Yay huge hut to myself.
I had dinner and crashed, not even staying awake long enough to finish my blog entry.